Seeking the Legacy of Australian Sapphire
Australian sapphire is little known in most markets because of the relationship the Australian mines have with the Thailand gemstone trade. Australia is a major supplier of Basalt hosted Sapphires and has large deposits being worked since the mid 1800’s and early 1900’s. The markets have had little knowledge of the existence of these Australian mining operations because they were often sold as being sourced from other areas such as Cambodia. These source of high grade sapphire in Australia and the relationship with Thailand’s gem industry have had a direct affect of the current markets in the gem and jewelry trades.
Large amounts of these stones are cut and sold from Thailand and they often end up in Russia’s fine jewelry markets. Australian sapphire has more iron content than those from places like Myanmar, which is the reason for its rich deep blue color. The Australian sapphire mining operations were never mechanized until the 1960’s and 70’s so they had limited supply’s of rough stone coming out of the mines. Many operations are of alluvial nature and surface mined. It seems that no one is yet mining the main source of these alluvial stones at there volcanic source.
The moment I held that stone up to the sun and saw a deep vibrant royal blue color throughout the sapphire…I knew I was hooked.
—Peter Brown, Sapphire Miner and Mine-to-Market Entrepreneur